The Drive-Thru Mentality

I absolutely love reading. When I order books online, I consider paying extra so that I can have them delivered the next day. When the book arrives, if it’s a fictional book that I can read through, I am finish it the same day.  I simply abandon all of my other responsibilities to read my book. I don’t like waiting to see what is going to happen at the end of the story. Because of this—this is what happened!  I stopped reading fictional books, I simply felt like I couldn’t pace myself enough to read them without getting behind on my life. It’s almost like I just couldn’t bare the thought of not knowing what was going to happen in the book THAT day.

Any other readers that can relate?

As a mature believer, I have come to realize that there are just some things that take time. Like reading a book or waiting on God to fulfill a promise.

We don’t serve a God that stands over us and waves a magic wand and our promises are in front of us. We serve a Father that makes sure that we are ready for what is coming up next in our lives. There are times in my own personal life where I am so preoccupied by the end of my story (my next destination) that I bypass (responsibilities) everything else that is happening in my life.

The biggest thing about waiting is that if the outcome is uncertain it makes us anxious. If I order my food at the drive thru window and pay for it, I am not worried. I know that I have paid for my food, the servers are cooking it, I know that it’s coming. I may be hungry, but I am not anxious.

Here’s the catch.

Life is not always as certain as a drive thru window. We don’t pull up to a speaker, tell God what we want, and pick it up at the next window. God may have given us instructions on a certain area in our life, but He didn’t tell us exact details about it. And this is where waiting comes in.

So, what do we do while we are waiting? How can I read books but not neglect my entire life in order to get to the end of the story? How can I wait for the promise but not Bypass everything else in the meantime?

 

  1. Be in expectation of God’s best

Let me explain. When you are waiting for the BIG promise–The marriage. The business. The house. Everything else seems to pale in comparison to that Big dream. But I have learned that every single moment or season in my life is preparing me for what is next. The important thing is that I am aware that while I am waiting, I should expect what is next (whether it is the promise or not) to be God’s BEST for me. How differently would we handle our seasons if we believed that they were God’s BEST for us instead of idle time spent fantasizing over where we wish we were? Let me bring it home for you. While on the way to my house , I am living in a apartment–instead of complaining maybe I should get my finances in order so that I can live peacefully in my new home when I m able to purchase it. (This has been me before) The BEST thing that God could do for me is wait for ME to be mature enough before he gives me my promise!!

 

  1. Recall his faithfulness

I know its hard when things are just NOT looking what you thought they would look like. I know how it feels to STILL be in a certain situation that we had hoped we could pray our way out of. I’ve learned in the waiting, that one of the best things that I could do was to recall God’s faithfulness. There’s no way to be ungrateful when you start listing the ways that he has made. I’ll start:

*A clean bill of health after 2 hospital stays

*Provision for the children’s school needs

*My daily needs being met

I could literally go on and on.. there were no ways that they anxiety helped my situation. It wasn’t needed. God always fulfilled his promise.

 

  1. Do what you can

This is another super HARD area for me. OMG! I used to always be stuck because I perceived that I didn’t have enough money to do what I wanted to do (I was waiting) so I ignored the areas that I could improve only to STILL have to face them years later. Let me help you understand. Scenario: I don’t have money to take my children to the movies, so in addition to feeling sorry for myself, I feel inadequate. Instead of that: I can work on the completing the family scrapbook that I already have all of the materials for and involve my children in the process (by having conversation with them) which will create lasting memories. Make sense? In the waiting, it seems like until the bigger dream is realized, we’re stuck. But in the waiting, we can learn to focus on things that we can still do to find fulfillment in our lives. I look back now and can’t believe that I chose anxiety and worry over finding something that I could focus on at the time.

 

I have learned to slow down. I no longer read my books in one day while ignoring the laundry and the kids. I read when I can and I purposefully plan out time to read when all of my other obligations have been met. And I believe this is how God wants us to be. He doesn’t want us sitting around with our heads down thinking, “when _____________________ (insert your promise) happens I will finally be able to enjoy life! I believe he wants us being progressive in our waiting.

He wants us getting organized, preparing ourselves, sitting with GREAT expectation of what’s to come BELIEVING that it is his best for us in our season.

I am no longer trying to figure out the end goal. I am committed to living day to day from his daily bread, while expecting his next great move to be perfect for this season of my life.

Remember! We serve a perfect, faithful and loving father!!

 

Here a few scriptures that are helping me through this waiting season:

 

Psalm 62:5, ESV For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

 

Lamentations 3:25-26, NIV The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

 

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

Psalm 33:4 – “For the Word of the Lord is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness.”

 

Psalm 37:3 – “Trust in the Lord, and do good. Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.”

 

 

 

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A different way to look at Loss

I cannot remember a time where I did not love sweets OR food in general. In particular pies, candy or sugar filled snacks.

Starting at a very young age of about 5 or 6 I remember that my mom would buy me cookies and chips and bring them over to my grandmother’s house where I would sit patiently waiting on the porch for her to come. Even when I think of the different interactions that I would have with my older male family members (as a child) they would offer me snacks and food to bribe me into allowing them to touch me.

I had this really bad break-up in when I was freshman in college and I returned back to my hometown with what I now know as a broken heart. I was simply too broken hearted to stay away from what was familiar to me. I then picked up the habit of smoking to alleviate some of the pain. I really began to snack then!

It’s almost like my appetite was insatiable and when I ate the sweet treats it gave me a feeling of control and a fullness that I was not able to find anywhere else.

As I grew up, I still loved sweets but I cannot recall it being a huge issue until I became pregnant at 19. I was sick every single day of my pregnancy and because of this –I couldn’t work. I relied on my student refunds from school to provide for my family because I definitely did not have any other means. The sitting quietly with myself and not being able to eat what I wanted led me to have a depressed pregnancy. I will never forget coming home from the hospital after giving birth and eating an entire bag of mini snicker bars. And this became a pattern. No matter the feeling—joy, sadness, happiness, boredom—they all ignited my desire to eat something that would make me feel full and not empty.

Not to mention—I enjoyed eating other foods in general as well.

Eating was an event for me.

I would think about the food that I would eat for dinner or lunch or what was for breakfast, it was all there. Inside of me. Controlling my every move.

Fast forward –I was now 22 and the mother of 3 (3 year old twin girls and a one year old son) and I now know that I was somewhere between severely depressed and losing my mind. I was not in a very good relationship and not to mention he was physically abusive to me as well. I would go to the store and get 4 or 5 pies (Debbie Cakes) and I would eat all of them while I laid in the bed and watched TV. And this started a trend that sadly I am still (12 years later) trying to fight to end! Of course I no longer go and get that many pies, BUT I have up until the last few weeks made sure that I had some type of sweet in my home so that I could eat before bed time.

If I am honest, I can say that I believe that I was born with the hole. This hole appeared to be a place where nothing could fill the space within me that longed for something that was missing. My mother was 16 years old, pregnant with me and the mother of an 8 month old son. When I was 2, she was pregnant again with my sister, then I became a big sister to my brother when I was 6. Of course, I no longer am angry with her for what I perceive myself to have never been given or was born lacking, but my purpose is to paint the picture, not point fingers.

For the sake of time—I’ll move on.

There are 12 men and 2 women that sexually molested/raped me when I was growing up. It started when I was 4 and on the bus on my way home from school and ended one night when I was 13 and sat up in my bed and screamed “Get out—along with some other words (I wasn’t saved, lol)” It’s like no matter where I went someone was there touching my body and looking at me as if it were normal and I wanted it. I did not speak a word to anyone about it until I was 27 years old. And when I began therapy it destroyed me completely. I purchased this book called, “The courage to heal: a guide for women survivors of sexual abuse.”

The first line of the book read like this, “ When children are sexually abused, their natural sexual unfolding is stolen. They are introduced to sex on an adult’s timetable, according to an adult’s needs. They may not have a chance to explore naturally, to experience their own desires on the inside. “

3 things to note: the word “survivor and sexual abuse” made me have anxiety. I realized that I had somehow disconnected my abusers actions to me! Secondly, I no longer knew who I was. It was like I was holding a picture that said, “what’s wrong with this picture and I had to pick out all of the things that didn’t belong there. Lastly, this shook me so bad to my core that I could not do anything for 6 months. Except of course lay in the bed and eat.

I did not know.

I did not know.

I did not know that this had affected me. It was so normal. It happened everywhere. I used to joke and say it’s like I had a sign on my forehead that said, “F- me, I like it.” I also used to say, “the day I was born God must have been pissed off with the world,” I meant that part.

I spent 3 years in therapy and was diagnosed with depression and PTSD and during this time I still ate to fill the holes. The holes seemed to grow bigger and bigger. I gained about 30-40 pounds after I started therapy because It was just so awful. After being numb for so long, now that I was feeling something it was very overwhelming. After I got past the initial shock of the what my healthy self and healthy life should look like, there was so many places that needed repairing—my parenting, my relationships, my career and even forgiveness for those who had abused me. All things that would cause me to go back into my past to try to repair my heart, mind and body.

You may ask what does this have to do with God? And my answer is everything.

Where else do we go to gain retribution for all that we’ve lost? Where do we go to find a way to fill the holes with something that is good and everlasting and won’t harm you? Sexual abuse, real depression (because it is real and has somehow been swept under the rug as not real) , lack of support, mental challenges that causes lives to unravel are real, but the reality of being able to go somewhere and say, “after 10 years this is still hurting me or I just can’t seem to get my thoughts clear” aren’t discussions that we have.

The root of my pain is universal. I wasn’t cared for. I wasn’t protected. I felt like I had lost at life. For so long I felt this way. For so long, I felt like a robot just walking through life working, trying desperately to create a life that made sense when deep down inside all I could think of was “How much more loss will I receive in this lifetime?”

I would wonder how long will I pay for the mistakes I made when I just didn’t know!

I didn’t know God, I didn’t learn how to save or balance a checkbook.

I didn’t know that I would have to realistically pay those student loans back!

I didn’t know that I would be a single parent at 33 with 3 children to provide for.

I didn’t know how to be a true friend.

I just didn’t know. I would have done things differently, I promise Lord!

..and now, I don’t know how to do this without you helping me?

I don’t know how to stand here and wait for you when it seems like I am on the interstate walking and everyone else is in cars.

I don’t know how to feel this hurt and abandoned by life and continue to believe that this will work out for my good.

Is is possible that you forgot about me?

If I uproot the pain, will it stop bearing fruit in my life?

How can I take the blinders off of comparison and just focus on my life, when I just feel so much pain when I let go of all of the things that fill my holes?

When I resist the food, I am left with me. I am left with reality. All choices. Good and bad. I am left with where I am in in life. I am left with my truth. I am left with recovery from everything. I am also left with the fact that you knew about this before I was born. And this is perhaps the hardest. I can’t say this if I knew that my child would suffer, If I could willfully still give birth. Perhaps, that is why you are God and I am not.

Perhaps this is because I see my life from the school bus 30 years ago where I was first molested and you see me in eternity having fulfilled YOUR purpose for me, not my own.

So, how do we look at loss? How does it not swallow us whole and destroy everything? I have come to believe that we are to crucify any word or feeling that is contrary to what and who God has called us to be. I believe that we give the pain from the experience to God where he can help us prod along in life without the baggage of the pain. We are not capable of carrying it around. Have you ever tried to bring all of the groceries in at once? It’s hard and your fingers and arms hurt, but you make it work right? This is loss in my opinion. It’s heavy and bulky and its too much to carry for a long time. I carried around my loss so therefore I could never uproot the real issue. Therefore, I could never let it go. Since it was with me and I was filling my holes with it, I didn’t have room for God’s healing too.

Now prayerfully, most of you will not have abuse as the reason that you are filling your holes with food, but I know many of you struggle with stuffing your face so that you feel better about your life. Maybe you lost someone this year and it makes you sad. Maybe you’ve gained weight which makes you self-conscious so you eat even more food now. Or maybe the reality of your friendships or relationships make you feel alone, or maybe it’s your finances that you eat to cover up the worry. Maybe the loss is being content while single and not obsessing that a mate will somehow make us better. Whatever it is, it won’t go away because those feelings are just fruit, the emotions behind them are the root!

As I sit in the silence craving bacon and ice cream and Milano cookies, I have no choice but to take my thoughts and give them to the Lord. I have no choice but to realize that I can fight through the urge to eat those things, by recognizing that I simply have to learn to fight back. I just can’t lay there and eat because it’s easy and NOT fight back because it’s hard.

Luke 3:9 says, “the ax is already at the root of the trees and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

And this is what I should be repeating to myself as I sit in the silence. What fruit has these feeling produced in my life so far? I can name a few—rebellion, fornication, addictions, lust and gluttony. Now that I know this, I am certain that this a root that needs to be DESTROYED.

I know now that eating the cookies or whatever will make me feel FULL at the moment, but the emptiness will always return. Eating the food is like chopping off the branches (pain) but leaving the tree (abuse) in the ground and expecting the tree not to continue to produce fruit in my life.

I have come to view loss in a different way now. I view the loss as a mode of transportation to the one who heals. The loss although painful created a hole big enough to fit the universe inside. And only someone who created the universe can fill it. It’s hard, but being filled by God’s presence is fulfilling on a level that can’t be explained.

Today I am okay. I really wanted ice cream last night! I didn’t get it though. I ate chips instead. I can only cut out a few things at a time, otherwise it will completely overwhelm my senses and I’ll give in (this is my story, if you’re led to go cold turkey with certain foods, then do that) But there have been quite a few nights over the last 6 weeks where I haven’t eaten ANYTHING before bed! Which is a huge victory for me. It beautiful because there was a time when I could not sleep on an empty stomach. I have also been working out as well (consistently) and its mainly because I have the time to create the willpower to connect with myself and who I am and I can pray for the strength to push past obstacles that stopped me for so long.

I pray that there was something that was written in this that will help you move forward in freedom.

xo,

Julian

 

I don’t want to & I shouldn’t have to…

If I can be honest I absolutely LOVE the thought of being used by God. It puts a grin on my face & a smile in my heart.  

But–there’s just one thing. 

It doesn’t always feel good.  

God uses our testimonies of faith & miracles to reach others. But in the middle of faith and miracles is often pain and suffering.  

No matter where I end up, who’s stage I am on, how many books I write or blogs that I publish- I will never see the glory in sexual abuse or horrific experiences that people go through. I simply have to understand that God works in ways that I may never understand.  

We’ve all experienced things in our lives that we just don’t want to do. It’s hard to LOVE when others aren’t being kind to us or we don’t understand. It’s hard to forgive people that have hurt us deeply and its even harder to sit back in life and watch things happen that you feel you have no control over.  

I just don’t want life to be hard. I want to wake up in the morning, pray, make coffee and watch the sunrise—all the while thanking God for his glorious gifts.  The reality is most morning I stumble out of the bed, remind myself to thank God, try not to add too much sugar in my coffee and attempt to not focus too hard on the things that my heart is aching for.  

I can cry and scream and challenge God and ask him a million times why I am experiencing hardship and why things aren’t the way that I want them to be and how I see them. But he is not swayed by my doubt or my pouting. 

Because I went so long operating in my own strength in life, I tend to believe that because I have done all that I can do to achieve what I want-then God must be withholding it from me. In other words, he’s messing with me. I have felt like he was dangling a carrot in front of me and I couldn’t jump high enough to catch it. This often leaves my heart hurting and my face full of tears.  

The truth of the matter is that if we are honest we (at times) believe that we shouldn’t have to suffer. We believe that we have done our duty in being disciples of Christ and we’ve quit this or that and we no longer go here or there, so we feel like this is enough for God to give us a “better” or “easier” life. This is so me!! I am often so frustrated and exhausted with waking up feeling like things are still the same. I want the miracle now! I want to know that what I am doing matters and that its making my life “better and easier.”  

If I asked anyone reading this to sacrifice a member of their family by killing them would you do it? Sounds crazy right? But that’s what Jesus did for us. He did this so that we didn’t have to die in our sin, he did this so we would have a way to communicate with him eternally. Sometimes I feel so ashamed of how I act towards God after all that he’s done for me daily. I can see. I can type these words. I can read them. 

What is the state of my heart if I think, “well that’s nothing, I’ve always been able to write/see/type? 

My truth remains the same—I want to be used, but I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to lose people or things. I want life to be like skipping down the sidewalk with flowers in my hair and a trail of butterflies following me.  

Sometimes I allow myself to get so overwhelmed and away from the Father that I find myself in such a state of mind that its hard to crawl my way out of. With God it’s easy to believe that you have “somewhat” arrived where there are things that won’t bother you anymore and missing that prayer time or quiet time is okay—but this is what allows –“I don’t want to & I shouldn’t have to” creep into your mind and make you believe that what you’re enduring isn’t worth it.  

I can be honest with you all and say: I am going through so much right now. I’ve questioned my faith, my worth, my value, God’s plan for my life, my ability to love, forgive, be a good parent, be a worthy friend, not talk too much, or too little, try harder, let it go…the list could go on and on. And in the midst of it I say to the Lord, “It’s too much, I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to save anyone. I just want to stop hurting and doubting and fighting.” And sometimes God doesn’t say anything. Sometimes I feel like he’s ignoring me or far away or I’ve done something.  

Then after a while when I’ve gotten quiet or I am washing the dishes or brushing my hair or driving he will quietly tell me the reason.  

“There’s no other way.”  

And my heart breaks because I feel so selfish and I know that my heart isn’t aching because I don’t believe or trust, but its aching because I just don’t want to suffer and I don’t feel like I should have to.  

We all know that there are some lessons that we just have to go through to learn. It’s like staying up too late and being late for work and then being sleepy all day and what do you say as soon as you realize you messed up? “I will never do that again, right?” But you had to go through the experience to understand that you should not stay up too late.  

If there was any other way, I believe that we wouldn’t suffer. If there was any other way, I don’t believe that we would have to fight so much. But is there really any other way to testify about God’s goodness without having to experience the faith and miracles? If we haven’t held on for dear life for Him to make a way, how can we encourage someone else that He is faithful?  

I don’t want to believe in something I can’t see. I just want to have the money. I just want to have the house. I just want my kids to behave and do everything right. Matter of fact while were talking about the kids, I don’t want to be a single parent! Why didn’t you stop me God? 

And I shouldn’t have to block out memories of being molested. And I shouldn’t have to work so hard to survive. I shouldn’t have to fight so hard to believe. I shouldn’t have all of these obstacles God!! Don’t you see how hard I am trying? 

You may read this and say, well I can’t relate to any of that. But your I don’t want to may be I don’t want to get divorced, or I don’t want to move out of this house, or I don’t want to take of a sick parent/child, or even I don’t want to still be single…Maybe there’s a addiction you’re fighting or a relationship that you need to end or an apology that you need to give.

If that’s you I believe–

…his answer is the same—there’s no other way.  

The truth is : We GET to honor God by believing in his miracles and showing faith. We do this by enduring through hard stuff and sharing our testimonies of how he has delivered us through difficult times.

Hang in there. Sending love and light to you.

P.S.  

Something new that I am doing this year and having scriptures that I will focus on for the entire year to encourage you to do the same! This is one of my favorites! 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death no life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

Romans 8:37-39 

I will keep saying it until it soaks into my skin like a sponge. I will keep saying it until it takes over my senses and I no longer ache for something other than his presence to know that he is always there. Ever present. Never failing. Always faithful.  

 

 

 

 

The Bigger picture about being a mother ……

The magnitude of my role as mother did not hit me until I was about 30 when my children were around the ages of 10 and 7. I remember having this moment when I realized that I had expectations of them that I hadn’t taught them. Up until this point, when attending an event where I had to introduce myself I would say, “I’m Julian and I am the single parent of 3 children.”

You see, at this time, this is how I identified myself. It was my identity and my existence and the reason that I introduced myself that way was because I was so bitter about it that I felt like I needed people to know that I was A SINGLE PARENT of 3 kids, so give me a break, be proud of me, understand my pain, etc. As I began to work on myself on the inside and pray to God about being a better mother, I realized that I needed to identify myself as he names that he called me, loved, chosen, my daughter, beloved, etc.

And it all started with one truth: There’s not a parent that I’ve ever encountered that hasn’t vented about the struggle of raising children. It hasn’t mattered if they were the single mom of one child or 3 children, married, divorced or widowed. They’ve all expressed the angst of the complete submission of self that it takes in order to raise and nurture children.

When I see young girls pregnant and having babies my heart weeps for the unknown sense that they have about how things will change.  Like me, I believe that they did not know just how hard and how much support they would need when raising children. Then it’s like once you begin to have to miss work, or parties or school you begin to look at how the father’s life has not changed and then you become bitter. I’ve been there and that’s why I want to share with you what helped me move beyond the frustrations and focus on things that mattered in their lives.

 

  1. We have a responsibility to teach our children how to become who they are, not expect them to become who they are.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.”

I am honest enough to say that I spent the early years of my children’s life caught up in my own mess. I expected manners when I didn’t teach manners, I expected respect of others when I didn’t teach it, I respected sharing and kindness when I didn’t teach it. I expected them to know how to problem solve, clean up, etc when I had never actually taken the time out to teach them those things and boy am I paying for it now! Kids can learn all of the above things I just mentioned beginning as early as 2 years old. The time is now to invest in how you are shaping them as opposed to being frustrated about being the only one who seems to ‘care’ about them. We must realize that we have an earthly responsibility to teach our children how to live and behave in the world. It’s a hard job, we know this! No need to keep repeating that phrase every day. (Hugs)

 

  1. Mean what you say and say what you mean .

Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

Discipline is hard but necessary! The more we give our children empty threats the more the realize that they don’t REALLY have to do what we’re asking them to do. I imagine as a heavenly father, it is often hard for the Lord to watch us suffer, but he has to stick with his word as he cannot tell a lie. And if he warns us not to steal and we do, we go to jail. It’s the consequence. So, we must realize the same thing, some things we have to allow our children to experience to get them to understand what a certain behaviors consequence is. As the parent to teens, I am realizing that while they were young was the time to follow through with consequences for their actions. The biggest reason I didn’t do it—It was an inconvenience. Rather explain to them why they are not allowed to watch tv, I let them watch it so that I can go do what I need to do. Now it takes me hours and my complete evenings (several days in a row) to get my children to see that I am serious. I know to a certain measure that you’ll still have trouble with teenagers, but I can testify that their behavior is better now that they know that I say what I mean and mean what I say.

 

  1. We have a responsibility to try to be amicable with the fathers.

Philipians 4:8 tells us “ Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things and the God of peace be with you”

Forgiveness is noble, right and true. At this point it really just is what it is. The child(ren) are here and there’s not much that can be done. However, we as mothers need to understand that there is something inside of all humans that want to be loved by their mothers and fathers. Children don’t really understand what it means to be absent. I may not always agree with or care about what my children’s fathers say, but I have LEARNED that I owe it to my children, to do the best that I could in connecting them with their father as much as possible, even if it’s an inconvenience for me. There’s a peace in my heart that I don’t have to raise my children to believe anything except good about their fathers. Then I ask my children to give them grace because at the end of the day—we all fall short in some area.

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth”

Children are a blessing. I believe that once I started viewing them that way life became a little bit easier. Once I began thinking about the way that God was careful to create me and create a way to procreate children I realized that despite the way that they came into the world, that my children were indeed a blessing.

 

We are what we identify ourselves as. If you identify yourself as a single mom, then you are leaving out , educator, doctor, leader, best friend etc. all of the other roles that you have as their mother. We are not merely single mothers, but we are MOTHERS and we are strong, resilient, compassionate and we are WISE. I literally have conversations with people now and don’t even mention my children. Why? Because I am Julian, a writer, a teacher, a friend, a lover of Christ. I am funny, smart and a joy to be around. And this is how I choose to show up to the world.

 

The father of the universe says that I belong to HIM and that in HIM I can do ALL things. I believe I can mother, without the benefit of a partner right now, and that not dominate who I am. I can believe that this factor of my identity, will not determine how I view the world or myself.

 

I want to encourage you to believe that you have what It takes, not because you can hustle or you’re going to prove something to HIM, but because you know who Is on your side, willing to give you wisdom and insight as well as send you people to help you out and pour into your life.

 

I’m rooting for ya’ll,

 

Julian

5 Things I recognized when I quit social Media!

I needed a break from social media! A big one. I realized that I was on social media ALL the time. I was caught up in who was doing what, with who and when. I was scrolling while waiting in the grocery line, while in church, and even while waiting in the carpool line and sometimes even at the red light (hides face).

Yep, I was that mom!

Then one day, the holy spirit convicted me very quickly, “You could write your book with the time you are scrolling.”

I was ashamed, but I knew it was the truth. Between Instagram, Facebook and Candy Crush, my time was immobilized being engulfed with the distraction of other people’s lives and things that only sought to keep me busy from tending my own life.

So, I quit. For 40 days. And it was amazing!

 

Here is what I discovered:

 

  1. I was no longer distracted. – Let me explain. I wasn’t scrolling on social media, while my children were trying to have a conversation with me. I wasn’t scrolling instead of listening to my pastor. I wasn’t scrolling instead of looking into the face of a friend who was talking to me about something. While in prayer, I wasn’t obsessed with notifications because I was not connected to social media. When I would pick up my phone, I would realize that there was nothing to do, so this forced me to be present wherever I was. I was free in the grocery store to minister if the Lord led me so, I was able to listen intently during church to the message. And after a few days, I could sense the change in my heart.
  2. I wasn’t comparing – This is HUGE! I can be completely honest with you all. We all like to say we are confident in who we are, but after staring at other people’s lives for hours, how can we not feel the slightest bit inadequate? In a matter of minutes, you see people publishing books,  having successes, taking trips, getting engaged, becoming pregnant, buying a new home,  getting new jobs, etc. And it’s easy to think, “Here I am, just sitting in my job/at home, waiting for _________________ (insert what you’re hoping for)” This was such a stumbling block for me!  As soon as I got off social media, I was no longer obsessed with what I was doing? Was this post worthy? Became a question of the past because I was forced to become obsessed with my own life and my personal relationship with God. I went to pray instead of scroll and the only comparison I began to make was “How can I become more like God and less like the world?”
  3. I didn’t feel entwined in others’ lives – let me make this clear. Social media has in some ways, given us too much liberty day to day. I can look at someone’s timeline and be able to tell what they have done with their lives (depending on what they post) for the last few days. I know what they had for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I know what they’re hoping for and where they’ve been. I know all of their problems and struggles and I am also anxiously waiting to see what they post next. Instead of anxiously waiting to hear a word from God (which is what my mouth would say) I was more interested in what other people were doing.  When I took the break, I remember moments where I would realize that I didn’t know what other people had going on, I had become SO connected with God in a matter of days that after a few weeks, God began to speak to me about ministering and praying or others! It blew my mind and I never want to find myself in a space where I am not available to meet him and wait anxiously for his word!
  4. I recognized the true motives of my heart – I know that God uses social media to speak through others and minister his word and this is one way that I believed that I was supposed to share my story and my testimony. But what had transpired over the past few months, was more about “what did I have to share” instead of “what would you like me to share lord” I became more obsessed over what it sounded like, who liked it and if it was truly from the Lord. I don’t believe this was what God had in mind when I began to post and testify. I needed to learn to be obedient without wondering who would like it, if someone would comment or if I would feel gratified about the post. It wasn’t the point. The point was to bring GLORY to God not myself. I needed to learn this. I haven’t posted much since I got back on, but the truth is, now I have a point in posting (glorify God) and not a motive (others to see me).
  5. My children were on social media /internet more than I was – Yes, its true! When I got off social media, I began to realize how much LESS I had my phone attached to my hip. There was nothing to do, unless I was texting or checking my email which wasn’t at all exciting. But then I noticed that my children were always on theirs. Now, I do limit which apps they are on, but they love watching prank videos and other videos on YouTube associated with their interests. I noticed that their phones were the first thing they reached for in the morning instead of washing their face or brushing their teeth. They were now all engrossed in their phones instead of talking to me or with each other. I also noticed that they were scrolling instead of praying before bed. What a bad example I had set!! Now I had to begin setting boundaries for them with their phones so that they wouldn’t be obsessed as I was.

 

 

One thing is certain. I know God on a new level that I did not when I began swapping time for God with scrolling on my phone. I realized that in the silence of our minds when we are scrolling and comparing and contrasting, we are being overloaded with so much information! When I went back on the first day, I remember feeling overwhelmed! There was sooo much. Someone was getting married, someone was posting a funny video, someone was posting something motivational and someone was making a joke out of something that wasn’t really funny when you really thought about it. It was too much for my brain. Something I NEVER thought I would say. I didn’t even get back on until the next day! I am definitely not insisting that I’ll never get back on, on a daily basis, but for now, I still desperately need Jesus more than any other person could ever motivate me!

3 ways standing TALL amidst disappointment and rejection helped heal me from depression

In the past 3 months, I received 4 rejection letters (for opportunities I had hoped for) and the 5th one took my breath away momentarily. This email came just as suddenly as the others had, as bad news usually does. As I waited for a yes or a no, I fully understood that it could go either way. I was as prepared as I could be, but disappointment still managed to overpower my confidence in God’s timing. The moments that I’d hope would be spent marveling at new beginnings were spent attempting not to break down in tears.

Life taught me, as I’m sure we can all agree, that when we are hurting –we drown our pain with something. Our natural response is far from thanking God for closing a door that we wanted to pry open. Our mind’s say:  Let’s shop. Let’s drink. Let’s do drugs. Let’s have sex. Let’s scroll on social media. Let’s do something besides SIT in what we are feeling.

In other words, let me find something to do with what I feel that takes away the uncomfortableness of not feeling in control.

There was nothing more soul crushing than disappointment. Except maybe rejection.

Disappointment literally means the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.

I can not think of anything more disappointing than finding yourself living a life that you did not expect.

Except maybe stepping out on faith to create the life you believe that God has for you and then………NOTHING.

As I struggled to pull myself together, I realized that there was a detrimental truth hidden behind disappointment – This feeling was based off our expectations and our hopes. Which meant that whatever circumstance was causing the feeling of disappointment needed to be addressed.

Usually in my life, the disappointment quickly comes turns to rejection because UNMET expectations and hopes often felt like rejection in my heart. A closed door that God knows when to open– is for me in that moment–still closed. Until I learned to process that, the disappointment of different events in my life kept me in a violent cycle of depression.

It sounds quite simple, even as I type it out, but the mystery of acknowledging my feelings, hid from me for years. I never learned to process my feelings, and processing feelings that have been felt my entire life, from an adult’s perspective was hard for me. A toddler that falls and skins their knee gets soothed and gets reassurance from an adult that they will be fine. A teenager that doesn’t get asked to the dance or chosen on a team learns to be disappointed and still proceed in life. I missed these steps. I learned that negative emotions were to be avoided and when they were unavoidable, I was to find something that was external that would soothe them internally.

In my heart, I didn’t believe that I had the space to feel defeated, sad, disappointed, hopeless, weary, lonely, depressed or even discouraged.Life had taught me that, as a woman, I had to “press through, be strong and don’t let it get me down.” I do agree to a certain extent, that those are aspects of perseverance that have to be worked through. We MUST press through and be strong, but we MUST also acknowledge our feelings to God, who is the one who can help us through them.

In Psalm 69:3 , David says to the Lord: “I am worn out calling for help, My throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. “

In other words, “I am tired Lord. My voice is weak, I can not see you, I am looking for you and I can’t find you.”

In addition to seeing David’s words to the Lord it is important to note that in verse 13 David continues and says, “But I pray to you Lord, in the time of your favor, in your great Love o God, answer me with your pure salvation.”

David didn’t sit down and cry out to God and say “Why won’t you help me? I’m just going to quit. It’s hopeless.” David acknowledged how he felt (worn out, eyes failing) and then he acknowledged (I am praying to you, you are good, show me your favor)

There are too many potential problems that David could have been facing to name, but I am sure that the hopelessness that he felt was universal. I believe the woman who cannot conceive and my list of disappointments can on some levels relate to David’s problems as well.

But the difference in what I was doing and what David did was that in his disappointment and despair he expressed his feelings of hopelessness and unfulfilled expectations. To God and not his facebook page. To God- and not on twitter. To God-and not all of his co-workers. 

Throughout all of the descriptions of what David lamented to God, he comes back in verse 16 and says, “answer me Lord, out of the goodness of your love, in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly for I am in trouble.”

My version sounds like this: Lord I know you can fix this? But, why won’t you? Please don’t let this situation take me out. I know you’re good. If you’re not going to fix it, then fix me! I don’t see how I am going to survive this. Help me see it your way so that I can see SOME good in it. I can’t see the good without your eyes.” 

By the end of the psalm, David seems more hopeful and less unfulfilled.

And by the end of my prayers  so do I. 

And this is the foundation for freedom.

To stand tall in the face of disappointment is terrifying.

When you do it alone.

But to stand tall with God is empowering.

I decided to stand tall. And I told God how I felt.

I am lonely. I am tired. I thought that things would be different. I thought that there would be something tangible that I could do that would make my life easier than it is. I thought that there were pieces of my destiny that I could control. When I finally stopped wishing that I was born as someone else, I am left with this life that I must learn to love. Because as I love you, I begin to lean in to your perfect will—which in turn means learning to love the life that you gave me even if I don’t LOVE the circumstances of that life. It means praying when I am lonely instead of scrolling through my timeline or reminiscing on my ex. It means buying what I can afford, not what I want and being content with this season and having the blind faith that I won’t always be living paycheck to paycheck.

The Holy Spirit spoke into my heart and said, “Organize your clothes.”

“Wait, What? What does that have to do with my heart? I just poured it out to you.”

“Do something that needs to be done and that can be done.”

So I did, and although there was no profound moment where heaven met earth and my heart was healed, something did happen.

I began to find peace in my movements, each piece of clothing that I took off the pile, felt purposeful. As I began to sort the clothes, shirts here, underwear there, pants over here, I realized that I was moving, I was creating order in my bedroom. And it felt like it made sense. It felt like it was something that needed to be done and could be done.

This was the key to standing tall in the face of negative emotions (rejection, disappointment, fear) and being able to move past them.  I went to God, and he gave me purposeful direction that helped me in that moment with what I was feeling.

This became the pattern over the next few weeks and below are 3 things that I learned during this season:

  1. Expressing my feelings to God helped me process them – When we express our feelings to God, we give him the ability to help us through them. When we tell God that we feel empty, alone and scared, this gives him room to show us things/actions that can help us. Being encouraged by other believers is great, but only God can give revelation to as to HIS will for us.  While I would have looked at organizing clothes as a mundane household task, God showed me that I was focusing on something that I could do in that moment and this helped me process my loneliness in that moment.
  2. When I faced my feelings, they no longer had power over me – Once we face the fact about our feelings, they no longer have the power to disrupt our lives. Take for example, my disappointment about the rejection letters. Once I faced it, and let it all out, it no longer had the power to depress me 2 weeks later. I was able to tell myself, “hey this happened a few weeks ago, you expressed to God how you felt, you recognized that closed doors are God’s protection as well and through his leading , there are other endeavors that you are seeking to use your gifts and talents. This feeling is NOT from God!” And just like that I freed myself from thoughts of failure.
  3. I began to understand that it was natural to have negative emotions. – When things happen that cause us to pause in pain, we must learn to deal with them. No one wants to talk about cancer, or car accidents, or financial difficulties that seem endless, or infertility or singleness or marriages that are cracked at the core, or death but these are issues of life. They are all inevitable, and even if they don’t happen to us, they happen to the ones we love. Or even to people we hear about in the news. Your daughter is my daughter, your sister is my sister. Your brother is my brother and so forth. We must all sit together on the stage of grief and express our disappointment in the uncertainty of life. We must all acknowledge that the aches of our soul can only be healed through Jesus Christ and the words that he gives us for application and direction.

 

Look, there is no formula to depression or life. There is no set of rules that tell us exactly what to do and when to do it, but there are secret treasures hidden in the wings of Jesus that are only accessible through prayer and application. I searched my entire brain looking for something to help the pain go away. I looked for something that would help it not hurt so bad and that would make it bearable. But God’s promises do not promise that we’ll barely make it through, they promise VICTORY. In all things. In all ways. I’ve prayed for this freedom for years before I received it. And maybe for me, I had to keep trying my own ways before I finally was able to stop running from it, to truly give it to the Lord.

My prayer is that regardless of our reasons for being in pain or depression for that matter, we learn to lean in to the pain just a little, so that we can allow God in his overwhelming power to free us from ourselves. I don’t think that I will ever LOVE pain. Or rejection. Or fear. Or disappointment. But I do believe that when I am faced with these feelings in life, I’ll remember that God is always near me, even as close as my skin, and that he has already showed me what to do. I’ll remember that David, a great man in God’s kingdom, fought the same battles that I’ve fought and he persevered because he knew that the victory was greater than the battle. And I’ll return to the Psalms or whichever book in the bible day to day to find this kind of knowledge.

So, while we may find ourselves in situations that we didn’t think we ever would, living lives we never thought we would live, we must understand that disappointment and rejection are mere pit stops on the way to living in full freedom. When we break down our emotions to discover what we are really feeling on the inside, we find God in the midst of it, where he has always been, waiting to help us find our way out.

God will finish the work that he began in you!

Love,

Julian

I ain’t Never had nothin’

For as long as I can remember, I ain’t never had nothin.
Sure, I had clothes, shoes, and material possessions, but those things were always acquired at the cost of something important—like bills that needed to be paid. I’ve never went to stores “just to browse” or just to check out a sale. I only go to stores with a purpose of purchasing something that we need. I’ve never had “extra” money to buy things and rarely have I ever had a savings account for long periods of time. And even then I doubt it would have held over a hundred dollars.
My children have never had an abundance of anything, kinda like me. We’re usually operating out of one or two pair of shoes and rotating the rest of the stuff we need. A lot of women I know with gracious hearts pass down their clothes, that we take gratefully and this helps out more than I could ever express. And there are people that do little things here and there- school supplies, birthday cards, purses, underwear (new of course), just little things that show up right when we need them-but least when we expect them.
Like I said—I ain’t never had nothin.
For as long as I can think back—whatever money and abundance were – I didn’t have it. I spent most of my young adult years trying to break free of this seemingly cursed life. I went to college three times and graduated, then I got a better job, then I got a better job. But before I got the better job, I got on welfare, then I got off of welfare. Then I decided that I was going to be better than the struggle. Except I didn’t know how. Rarely can something be torn down and rebuilt using the same materials. I had a new mindset but I was trying to use the same materials. Didn’t work.
Funny thing is, I had an all knowing and all powerful God (who was and still is on my side) and didn’t even know it. I had dreams and hopes for the future but I mean I barely had money for Christmas, how could I publish a book? How could I travel the world? How could I experience the world without the means and resources?
Like I said—I ain’t never had nothin.
I discovered that Jesus loved me in 2016. Like for real loved me. Like no joking. He wanted the best for me always and he was always somehow with me, even when I wasn’t doing the right thing. Interesting. So you mean you’ve been here watching me struggle while you ate heavenly popcorn or something? Where were my angels? Were they sleeping or something ? Or were they against me too?
Okay, so it’s 2016 and now I am beginning to believe that God loves me and cares for me. Except for one thing. Every time hard times would come –well I guess hardER times is more appropriate because things were always hard—I would go all the way back to PRE-2016 where I my mind would always remind me –You ain’t never had nothin! My mind would torture my heart with thoughts like :
– Haven’t you been through enough?
-SO this is how God operates?
-Just die and get it over with, at least then you won’t have to worry about what you don’t have
-And why did you have kids?
-Like why did I get THESE parents?
-I just wish I had more support
And I could go on and on with the thoughts that would plague my mind day and night. New mindset but using the same materials I had before-which were doubt, fear, lack, resentment, and anger.
So as 2017 rolled in and quickly let me know that LIFE was still happening, I would still struggling with my life. One day I was grateful for the trouble, the next day I was mad about it, one day I was content with my life, the next day I just wanted to be able to do “insert some fleshly desire that would probably mask my real feelings” and then I would be okay. Like for real. I just know it. That’s the main reason why I can’t be happy because things just aren’t fair. I just want this or that and I just KNOW that it will make me content. New mindset –same materials. Remember –I ain’t got nothing but bill money and a LACK of time and support. I mean what am I supposed to use God? Everything I have goes to bills and OUR children and I don’t have anything “EXTRA” so what materials am I supposed to build with?
As a parent or aunt/uncle or anyone who is ever around kids—I’m sure you can relate to how sneaky and coy they are. How one minute they’re across the room and then the next minute they are on your phone in another room and you were not aware of ANY of it! I’m convinced this is how God moves. Quickly at times-when he’s in a good mood. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “enough is enough. She’s never gonna get it, let me just give her the answers.”
This is how the statement, “I ain’t never had nothin” hit me. IT was so true but not in the sense of what I thought. The clothes I wanted so badly, the pink nails I HAD to have, the sew in that I would just DIE without, the Jordan’s my children desperately needed, and the neighborhood and school that my children absolutely, positively NEEDED to attend were all NOTHIN.
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless of course, you fail the test?”
Wait Paul—you could have left the last little part off ! I can imagine Paul with the side eye saying, “I mean unless you’re not REALLY a Christian!” and then he would put his hands up and say, “I’m just saying”
But how right is Paul in saying this to us? The same person who spoke to Moses, impregnated a virgin and healed a blind man with spit—this spirit is within US ?
My second thought—so have I been roaming around the wilderness this year because I was still walking around with my old mindset and without the power of Christ that I had cried at the altar and claimed to have accepted?
Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives within me.” –
How powerful is this?
This means while I am busily running behind material things, I am fortifying the power that these things have over me and forfeiting the presence of God that is within me!!
So –I truly ain’t never had nothin- UNTIL I found Jesus Christ.
Because the thing is—yes, we live in a fallen world. Calamity, death and destruction are going to happen, but the day to day things that drive us insane—the rat race to the top, the accumulation of material possessions, the human efforts to promote ourselves, the lack of financial abundance, the lack of good hair, good bodies, nice shapes, nice cars and the list could go on and on. –all these things wanted for the wrong reasons are simply NOTHIN!!
I used to tell people that if I died the next day—I would lay on my death bed and say that I had a hard life—and that perhaps that’s just what it was meant to be. Hard. Tough. Extreme.
But now I know that there is a greater good behind the tough, hard and extreme. Now I know that when the God promised to send a helper to help us through these extreme times for his purposes that he meant it. Now I know that the Creator of the universe planned my life out just like the other 7 billion people on this earth lives.
So although He may be eating heavenly popcorn watching me, I know that he’s not watching me suffer, rather he’s waiting for me to search for him, connect with him and ask him for guidance as what to do. But he’s also expecting that I will grow in maturity and in faith as time progresses.
So if I am lying in bed about to pass on to live with my father in heaven, I will say my life was tough and I suffered a lot, but I will also say that towards the end I did my very best to please my father and that even though I failed lots and lots and lots of times, I can honestly say that I know that HE saw my heart and he knew how much effort I put into just being a better person because I lived for him. He will see that I once I knew that I could activate his power within me—I was beginning to walk a little more like him, talk a little more like him and just REST In all of my circumstances -easy or hard.
I rarely know if what I am writing will actually help someone out or if I just believe that I’m a awesome writer, but I just hope that if you are reading this and going through something that has threatened to knock you off your feet (or maybe it already has) I just urge you to remember the last time that He rescued you (or not) but you made it through that situation. But this time, let’s tap into that power that you have ACCEPTED that inside of you and say, “God, you know my circumstances, tell me what to do, show me how to get through this! I want to learn and move on! Tell me if I’m wrong, help me do the right thing next time” or whatever your situation may be.
I really never have had much—the yearning was and always has been to break the cycle of poverty—but if I can start with acknowledging that Christ is within me and HE gave me the desires to break poverty which means that HE will provide the resources needed to do so—I can live with the tests and suffering lasting a little bit longer than I personally like.

For as long as I can remember, I ain’t never had nothin.
Sure, I had clothes, shoes, and material possessions, but those things were always acquired at the cost of something important—like bills that needed to be paid. I’ve never went to stores “just to browse” or just to check out a sale. I only go to stores with a purpose of purchasing something that we need. I’ve never had “extra” money to buy things and rarely have I ever had a savings account for long periods of time. And even then I doubt it would have held over a hundred dollars.
My children have never had an abundance of anything, kinda like me. We’re usually operating out of one or two pair of shoes and rotating the rest of the stuff we need. A lot of women I know with gracious hearts pass down their clothes, that we take gratefully and this helps out more than I could ever express. And there are people that do little things here and there- school supplies, birthday cards, purses, underwear (new of course), just little things that show up right when we need them-but least when we expect them.
Like I said—I ain’t never had nothin.
For as long as I can think back—whatever money and abundance were – I didn’t have it. I spent most of my young adult years trying to break free of this seemingly cursed life. I went to college three times and graduated, then I got a better job, then I got a better job. But before I got the better job, I got on welfare, then I got off of welfare. Then I decided that I was going to be better than the struggle. Except I didn’t know how. Rarely can something be torn down and rebuilt using the same materials. I had a new mindset but I was trying to use the same materials. Didn’t work.
Funny thing is, I had an all knowing and all powerful God (who was and still is on my side) and didn’t even know it. I had dreams and hopes for the future but I mean I barely had money for Christmas, how could I publish a book? How could I travel the world? How could I experience the world without the means and resources?
Like I said—I ain’t never had nothin.
I discovered that Jesus loved me in 2016. Like for real loved me. Like no joking. He wanted the best for me always and he was always somehow with me, even when I wasn’t doing the right thing. Interesting. So you mean you’ve been here watching me struggle while you ate heavenly popcorn or something? Where were my angels? Were they sleeping or something ? Or were they against me too?
Okay, so it’s 2016 and now I am beginning to believe that God loves me and cares for me. Except for one thing. Every time hard times would come –well I guess hardER times is more appropriate because things were always hard—I would go all the way back to PRE-2016 where I my mind would always remind me –You ain’t never had nothin! My mind would torture my heart with thoughts like :
– Haven’t you been through enough?
-SO this is how God operates?
-Just die and get it over with, at least then you won’t have to worry about what you don’t have
-And why did you have kids?
-Like why did I get THESE parents?
-I just wish I had more support
And I could go on and on with the thoughts that would plague my mind day and night. New mindset but using the same materials I had before-which were doubt, fear, lack, resentment, and anger.
So as 2017 rolled in and quickly let me know that LIFE was still happening, I would still struggling with my life. One day I was grateful for the trouble, the next day I was mad about it, one day I was content with my life, the next day I just wanted to be able to do “insert some fleshly desire that would probably mask my real feelings” and then I would be okay. Like for real. I just know it. That’s the main reason why I can’t be happy because things just aren’t fair. I just want this or that and I just KNOW that it will make me content. New mindset –same materials. Remember –I ain’t got nothing but bill money and a LACK of time and support. I mean what am I supposed to use God? Everything I have goes to bills and OUR children and I don’t have anything “EXTRA” so what materials am I supposed to build with?
As a parent or aunt/uncle or anyone who is ever around kids—I’m sure you can relate to how sneaky and coy they are. How one minute they’re across the room and then the next minute they are on your phone in another room and you were not aware of ANY of it! I’m convinced this is how God moves. Quickly at times-when he’s in a good mood. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “enough is enough. She’s never gonna get it, let me just give her the answers.”
This is how the statement, “I ain’t never had nothin” hit me. IT was so true but not in the sense of what I thought. The clothes I wanted so badly, the pink nails I HAD to have, the sew in that I would just DIE without, the Jordan’s my children desperately needed, and the neighborhood and school that my children absolutely, positively NEEDED to attend were all NOTHIN.
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless of course, you fail the test?”
Wait Paul—you could have left the last little part off ! I can imagine Paul with the side eye saying, “I mean unless you’re not REALLY a Christian!” and then he would put his hands up and say, “I’m just saying”
But how right is Paul in saying this to us? The same person who spoke to Moses, impregnated a virgin and healed a blind man with spit—this spirit is within US ?
My second thought—so have I been roaming around the wilderness this year because I was still walking around with my old mindset and without the power of Christ that I had cried at the altar and claimed to have accepted?
Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives within me.” –
How powerful is this?
This means while I am busily running behind material things, I am fortifying the power that these things have over me and forfeiting the presence of God that is within me!!
So –I truly ain’t never had nothin- UNTIL I found Jesus Christ.
Because the thing is—yes, we live in a fallen world. Calamity, death and destruction are going to happen, but the day to day things that drive us insane—the rat race to the top, the accumulation of material possessions, the human efforts to promote ourselves, the lack of financial abundance, the lack of good hair, good bodies, nice shapes, nice cars and the list could go on and on. –all these things wanted for the wrong reasons are simply NOTHIN!!
I used to tell people that if I died the next day—I would lay on my death bed and say that I had a hard life—and that perhaps that’s just what it was meant to be. Hard. Tough. Extreme.
But now I know that there is a greater good behind the tough, hard and extreme. Now I know that when the God promised to send a helper to help us through these extreme times for his purposes that he meant it. Now I know that the Creator of the universe planned my life out just like the other 7 billion people on this earth lives.
So although He may be eating heavenly popcorn watching me, I know that he’s not watching me suffer, rather he’s waiting for me to search for him, connect with him and ask him for guidance as what to do. But he’s also expecting that I will grow in maturity and in faith as time progresses.
So if I am lying in bed about to pass on to live with my father in heaven, I will say my life was tough and I suffered a lot, but I will also say that towards the end I did my very best to please my father and that even though I failed lots and lots and lots of times, I can honestly say that I know that HE saw my heart and he knew how much effort I put into just being a better person because I lived for him. He will see that I once I knew that I could activate his power within me—I was beginning to walk a little more like him, talk a little more like him and just REST In all of my circumstances -easy or hard.
I rarely know if what I am writing will actually help someone out or if I just believe that I’m a awesome writer, but I just hope that if you are reading this and going through something that has threatened to knock you off your feet (or maybe it already has) I just urge you to remember the last time that He rescued you (or not) but you made it through that situation. But this time, let’s tap into that power that you have ACCEPTED that inside of you and say, “God, you know my circumstances, tell me what to do, show me how to get through this! I want to learn and move on! Tell me if I’m wrong, help me do the right thing next time” or whatever your situation may be.
I really never have had much—the yearning was and always has been to break the cycle of poverty—but if I can start with acknowledging that Christ is within me and HE gave me the desires to break poverty which means that HE will provide the resources needed to do so—I can live with the tests and suffering lasting a little bit longer than I personally like.

The Room Where It Happens

There are times where I am unequivocally inspired by my own journey.
My own experiences.
My own recovery.
My own resilience.
I am inspired by what I’ve overcome.

Then there are times where I look at myself through a blurry glass and wonder if I will ever feel whole. I am disgusted with the daily fight of being a survivor. Tainted by unplanned triggers and unwanted memories.

I am unable to soothe myself due to the daily tasks of fighting the day to day job of making something outta nothing. The resilience has faded into weariness and all that is left is a tired soul, tired of hoping that I won’t always resent myself or my body.

My mind is unforgiving. It chooses to remember the shapeless figures in the dark & every time I bathe I’m reminded that my body was someone else’s favorite first. I try to remind myself that I’m not choosing this, just as I didn’t choose the violation. But the memories seem to be embedded there.

My mind says ” don’t you forget that no one cares or that you weren’t important enough to save.”

I seem to be forever stuck in the room where it happened. I see the tv. The couch and the Carpet that is still there to this day. My mind is there. My memories are there.

I had a good 12 months where the memories were not as bad.
Not as strong.
Not as potent.

But then my nephew died & I felt the pit in my soul open back up. & then there it was.
The room.
The room where it happened.
Sitting there, almost waving at me to come in.
Have a seat.
Remember all that has hurt you.
The worst part.

One of the last times I held my nephew was in that room.
How could that room force it’s way into a good memory?
It’s not fair.

So while I want to erase the room, tear down the house, and never ride by there again, erasing that room will erase our last moments together.
Dammit.
It’s just not fair.

16 days later, I enter into another room.
It’s the ASCA MEETING ROOM.
it’s also a place that I haven’t visited in awhile.
But my spirits were low & I longed for the understanding that the silence of the room whispers back to you.

I longed for the smiles & the nods that said, “I get you. I am here.”
No one really has to say anything in that room.
This room is the room where it really happens.
& this is the room that I will focus on & unpack my memories in.

So as I sat in the room, legs tucked underneath me I realized 2 things.
I never sit that way anywhere else & I felt immediate ease.

I was laughing & smiling as I prepared to talk about difficult & disappointing things.
I realized that I was in the most important room of all.
This was the real room where it happens.
The room where the healing & understanding would overcome those awful memories.
The room where unworthiness would politely ease its way out of the door.
The room where inadequacy would not have space to sit.
The room where the silence spoke so loudly in waves of understanding & love.

I love this room.

I have been in recovery for almost 5 years & some days I think I have arrived where as some days feel like day 1. But I want to encourage you to come & sit with us in this room. There’s no bright light, lush & lavish furniture or an requirements of who you are SUPPOSED to be. There’s compassion, love & understanding waiting for you.

Undoubtedly, I will have another bad day or even week, but I know that the room where it happens will be available to me & you as well.

There are times where I am unequivocally inspired by my own journey.
My own experiences.
My own recovery.
My own resilience.
I am inspired by what I’ve overcome.

Then there are times where I look at myself through a blurry glass and wonder if I will ever feel whole. I am disgusted with the daily fight of being a survivor. Tainted by unplanned triggers and unwanted memories.

I am unable to soothe myself due to the daily tasks of fighting the day to day job of making something outta nothing. The resilience has faded into weariness and all that is left is a tired soul, tired of hoping that I won’t always resent myself or my body.

My mind is unforgiving. It chooses to remember the shapeless figures in the dark & every time I bathe I’m reminded that my body was someone else’s favorite first. I try to remind myself that I’m not choosing this, just as I didn’t choose the violation. But the memories seem to be embedded there.

My mind says ” don’t you forget that no one cares or that you weren’t important enough to save.”

I seem to be forever stuck in the room where it happened. I see the tv. The couch and the Carpet that is still there to this day. My mind is there. My memories are there.

I had a good 12 months where the memories were not as bad.
Not as strong.
Not as potent.

But then my nephew died & I felt the pit in my soul open back up. & then there it was.
The room.
The room where it happened.
Sitting there, almost waving at me to come in.
Have a seat.
Remember all that has hurt you.
The worst part.

One of the last times I held my nephew was in that room.
How could that room force it’s way into a good memory?
It’s not fair.

So while I want to erase the room, tear down the house, and never ride by there again, erasing that room will erase our last moments together.
Dammit.
It’s just not fair.

16 days later, I enter into another room.
It’s the ASCA MEETING ROOM.
it’s also a place that I haven’t visited in awhile.
But my spirits were low & I longed for the understanding that the silence of the room whispers back to you.

I longed for the smiles & the nods that said, “I get you. I am here.”
No one really has to say anything in that room.
This room is the room where it really happens.
& this is the room that I will focus on & unpack my memories in.

So as I sat in the room, legs tucked underneath me I realized 2 things.
I never sit that way anywhere else & I felt immediate ease.

I was laughing & smiling as I prepared to talk about difficult & disappointing things.
I realized that I was in the most important room of all.
This was the real room where it happens.
The room where the healing & understanding would overcome those awful memories.
The room where unworthiness would politely ease its way out of the door.
The room where inadequacy would not have space to sit.
The room where the silence spoke so loudly in waves of understanding & love.

I love this room.

I have been in recovery for almost 5 years & some days I think I have arrived where as some days feel like day 1. But I want to encourage you to come & sit with us in this room. There’s no bright light, lush & lavish furniture or an requirements of who you are SUPPOSED to be. There’s compassion, love & understanding waiting for you.

Undoubtedly, I will have another bad day or even week, but I know that the room where it happens will be available to me & you as well.

Always praying for your freedom,

 

Julian

5 Ways to deal with Depression in the work /home environment

5 Ways to Deal with Depression at work & at home
If I can be honest, it took me a while after discovering that I was dealing with depression to realize that it was not like the flu. You didn’t “get it” and take medicine for it to go away. This means that there was not specific “cure” to make it go away and stay away. This was a new concept for me because I always thought that there was an endpoint to things that had happened to me in my life, depression being no different. I remember my therapist telling me, “There is no nothing that makes it go away-often you just learn to deal with it better. Me being the person that I am, still thought that I could beat it!!

Needless to say, 2 years later and countless unfinished products later, she was right!
It comes and it goes. It stays and it leaves. Lingers along and then rushes away. I have not found the cure, perhaps the chemical side of it loves my brain, or perhaps this thorn in my side keeps me connected to God on a level that I would not have otherwise been able to have. As I dealt with different episodes last year with depression I began to find ways to get around it. Not necessarily to avoid it—but to get around its affects. Mental health –any kind is stigmatized. No one wants to raise their hand and say, “I deal with it.”
You don’t exactly pull someone to the side at work and say, “I feel hopeless and alone and I’m not motivated to get up in the morning!” Right, that wouldn’t go over so well!
In my quest to be better at this thing called life, be undefeatable and so the things that the Lord has called me to do –I created the top things that help me cope with depression!

1. Do double the work !
That’s right! My episodes generally last about 7-10 days- sometimes less! So during those other 20+ days during the month where I’m feeling at my optimum level, I get extra things done, like doing my lessons plans early (which is a struggle in itself) organizing bills ahead of time, being proactive in cleaning (laundry, deep cleaning, shopping) because the thing is during this time it takes a lot to do the mandatory things like work, cooking, etc. So I find that if some of those extra things like time to wash sheets, or an extra project at work that comes along its not pulling at my attention as much. I don’t ALWAYS do these things, but even if I can wrangle one or two off of my list, it makes those particularly hard days just a tad bit easier.

2. Acceptance of the circumstances of your mental health
Listen -I am not saying give up and die! However, I am saying that we have to accept that this is an issue that is very real in our lives and that ignoring it is not going to make it go way. I spent month after month assuring myself that the next month would not happen! I just knew that I could pray it away and make it not come back into my life. I even thought that I would fight with all of might the next time it snuck up into my life. It did NOT work. I just ended up feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t make it go away. I finally was smart enough to accept that I battled with chronic depression BUT that it was manageable. It was just like anything else in life, as much as I was willing to put into making the best of it was what I would get out of it. I accept that sometimes I wont feel the greatest or most motivated –which is normal! Even for people that don’t deal with depression!

3. Remind yourself that it is TEMPORARY
If you come to my house or actually anywhere where I spend a lot of time in (work, home) I have scriptures everywhere!! They remind me of the battles that the Lord has brought me through—they also remind me that I won’t feel this way always! I even write down joyful moments (like laughing with my children, having a good at work, feeling hopeful, connected to others, etc) It may sound cheesy to some, but it has worked wonders in me realizing that I won’t feel that ways for years or even months! I also read scriptures that remind me of God’s faithfulness and that my life is a portrait of who HE is not who I am.
4. Rest!
It may sound cliché, but resting is so good for our bodies! There may be people in the world who can go hard day after day, no matter the day! But I am not one of them! Not during the time when I am having an episode! Some days it takes everything to get out of bed and see the world as full of light and not darkness. On those days, my mind is in that place. Some days I can see hope and some days I despise it. But on those days, I give my permission to rest! I get the mandatory things done-work, family, church –and I rest. I don’t feel pity or sorry for myself –I just rest my body and my brain! I don’t try to save the world or even myself—I just rest. And I don’t apologize about it-it’s healthy for my mind and my body.
5. Be Present!
Whether you are at work or at home—be present! Talk to your children, play with them, laugh until your stomach hurts, touch them. Smile. Hug others. The thing is what depression does is separate your from your reality—the reality that you are loved by an almighty father! He wants us to see the beauty of the world around us—the world that He created for us! Smell the flowers, connect with creation. If you are at work—focus on work. If you are with your family-focus on them! I believe that God does not waste moments. He creates them for us to see who he is! This is apart of the process that I have to fight for the hardest! I can’t allow this issue to take away happy moments in my life! Even if my brain is telling me that its hopeless, the very fact that trees grow from seeds and the suns shines after a rainstorm reminds me that the darkness will not always stay! Those are thoughts that I hold onto—and it truly helps me and even makes me feel better most of the time!
I am no expert. I didn’t go to college for mental health. But who I am is a survivor of abuse both verbal, physical and sexual who still has trouble sleeping at night. Who starting this journey, 5 years ago, never thought I would smile again. Or laugh. Or love. Jesus has transformed my life, inside out and for that I am grateful. My education does not qualify me to give any advice about mental health, but the time I spend with God does. He qualifies. We obey!

But I spend time with God and He has shown me who he is countless times and in this showing me—he’s shown me beauty in dealing with depression! It makes me thankful that it only lasts 7 days and not 40. I am thankful that I can still speak, walk and talk. I am urged to help others who may be stuck and cannot seem to find a way out. But most importantly, I want to max out the gifts that he’s given me and not allow depression to rob me of the best of me! I hope some of these tips help!

Always praying for your freedom,

Julian

God’s Kaleidoscope

 

 

Music has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I used to listen to songs about love (since that is what I was inadvertently looking for) that spoke of undying love and “that connection” that was there and couldn’t be broken. I grew up hearing older women talk about how they had men in their lives who would “always” be there and for whatever reason they had always reconnected with, no matter who they were involved with. I guess in my own ways I was looking for my “person” that I could have the same things with.

I would listen to music while I cleaned up, while I drove, while I cooked. It seems like every free moment I had was spent listening to songs that spoke of my brokenness. If the song was melancholy and spoke of something that was missing, it was on repeat. So were my thoughts. My thoughts were on repeat of my past. I constantly thought of what happened to me as a child, the things I missed in high school, the boy that left, the parents that were absent, etc. The list went on and on and ALL of the thoughts were from my past! All of them!

I wanted love and acceptance that didn’t leave when we had a bad day. A love that didn’t get angry and hold it against me for days. I would belch the lyrics of the songs that made my brokenness acceptable. These lyrics spoke personally to shattered heart. My absent parents. My fatherless children. My empty bank account. When I would get high, I would allow the drugs to encompass my senses until the pain dulled. It never went away, but it was bearable because my heart didn’t have to hurt during those hours that I was intoxicated. I was filled temporarily with a strength that felt like I was made of steel and while it kept the emotions at bay, it wouldn’t allow anything good to come in either. I was not joyful or happy, I was either faking happiness or consumed by something that was going to be a filler for actually being okay. Those were my moods.

The kaleidoscope that I used was tinted with my pain. It only showed the pictures that I had stored up of my past. It did not see possibility for the future because I was replaying all of the images from the past. The direction that I turned the kaleidoscope in was always towards my past. The colors were dark—deep blues, dark red, tinted greens—those were the colors that I chose to see. Music was the key that opened the door labeled “past” for me. I loved that room. It was home, it was comfortable and it was all I knew.

What I loved most about smoking was the inhaling and exhaling of the nicotine. I loved the fact that it dulled my senses. I can look back now and see it was a “sitting place” for my pain. It seemed as if as soon as I picked it up, I grabbed a chair and went into my place of pain. The drugs made me feel in control. While I was intoxicated, I felt strong, I felt like I could face anything. My favorite statement used to be –“It is what it is.” The intoxication gave me this false sense strength that in reality was self-pity and acceptance that things would always be the way that they were.

I loved how the lyrics boasted of having sex, cursing, getting drunk/high and finding yourself in places the next morning and not being able to remember what happened. I would literally listen to those songs over and over again, screaming my favorite parts not knowing that those words were being embedded into my spirit and pushing me farther away from God.

The sin seared through my veins. I loved it. As much I hated the struggle, I loved feeling in control of my life. The music and melodies told me that -this is just the way that life is. Smoke it-drink it-sleep with him for money-sleep with him even though you know he has slept with such and such—it doesn’t matter if he has a condom-it feels better this way—But the songs—the songs say that this is what we do—the songs sing my life –the lyrics are speaking to me. There’s no way that they are wrong.

The music told me that my viewpoint was fine. The music sang the songs of the struggles of generations and mothers and fathers and violence and death. The music told the stories of drugs -cooking it, making it, selling it, –but this was my life. These were the things that I was doing, so it had to be okay to sing the songs, right?

“I know the Lord will make a way. I pray that the Lord makes a way. Lord let this come through for me. Lord let this check go through. Lord let this man call me so I can go get some money to pay this bill.”

That was the extent of my prayer life. I did not open my bible. I did not attend church often, I just assumed that the Lord either didn’t hear me or didn’t care. The only Holy Spirit I knew was the one who made the old women in church pass out or dance, I didn’t want Him. I mean, what would people think if I was singing all loud or dancing and shouting. I mean, like why would I do that? What would people say about me?

 

Because God knows who we are even in our mother’s wombs, he gave me the gift of loving words and writing them. He knew the life I would live, much like God knew the life that Jesus would live, when he placed him inside of Mary’s womb. He knew exactly how He wanted the message that He would give me to be written, so He gave me the LOVE of writing and words so that when it came time to tell my story, to tell what he has done for me, it would come out just the way He wanted it to come from ME. He knew the choices that I would make, the experience that I would have that would take me years to talk about, but only minutes to write! Isn’t that amazing?

When I was ready he began to send voices that I could “hear” and that would place me in places that I was able to hear what different people were saying about who God was. These people spoke directly to MY heart.

I stumbled upon a Hillsong Album after hearing one of their songs in a church service at The Gathering Oasis church where I attend. I remember walking down the aisle to receive prayer while they were worshipping to a song called “Oceans.” It was the very first time I had been bold enough to walk down the aisle and ask for prayer. The songs I were singing were no longer working, the nicotine didn’t have the same affect anymore and I was still hurting. No matter how much I smoked and how many red bulls I drank, there was something missing inside of me.

As I began to listen to sermons that my pastor preached using words like grace, mercy, purge, surrender, anoint, Holy Spirit, obedience and provision took on a new light for me.

Something began to happen.

My kaleidoscope began to change colors and pictures.

Now in the car I was listening to these songs whose lyrics spoke of the love that Jesus has for us. I began to be compelled to be different and better in a way that I had never before. The shapes changed and the patterns were somehow different.

I began to see that there was a magnitude of love that was just for me. I had my own door. It was mine. Jesus has already paid the price for it on the cross. I didn’t have to earn it. I didn’t have to wait hours for Him to calm down and still love me, it was reserved for me.

Discovering His love was the like discovering the water fountain that sits by the restroom- you never see it until you’re thirsty one day.

I didn’t know what Grace was until I decided that I needed to know that I was capable of receiving what was already given to me! I didn’t know what provision was until I allowed Him to provide for me. I didn’t know what surrender was until I laid it all down and said, “Have your way Lord” Truly.

As my logical mind struggled to make sense of these emotions and keep my kaleidoscope on the past pattern, the Holy Spirit continued to keep calling me telling me, “Its time daughter, it’s time to let it go”

I found myself saying, “But what will I do now that I am no longer angry?”

I wanted to change, I knew that I needed to change, but old patterns die hard. My kaleidoscope wanted to stay where it was, it didn’t want to have brighter colors and beautiful promises of the future, it wanted to “pretend” to be better, but keep the same pictures on reserve, just in case this “Jesus thing” fell through.

2 Chronicles 28:20 says, “Be strong and courageous, do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the services of the temple of the Lord is finished.”

What other proof do we need to see that we do not need a backup plan for Jesus?

 

Now that I was allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, the choices that I made in music were changing. The lyrics that I used to listen to no longer appealed to my sense as they had in the past.

Lyrics like, “Faith makes a fool of what makes sense”

“I found my life when I laid it down.”

“I touched the sky when my knees hit the ground”

..began to minister to my heart and I wanted more. I was finally feeling something rather than pain. Well let me be clear—I was still in pain, but I was surrendering that pain to Jesus the only one who could fill me up and I poured out the pain. At church, the corporate worship soothed my soul, the love I would feel brought tears to my eyes (on another blog I’ll talk about how I went years without ever crying) The drugs had never done this!  I began to actually enjoy church because as a new believer, I didn’t know how to create that atmosphere at home yet.

Always a writer, I began to unload on Jesus like never before. I would write pages and pages of stuff, that I wanted Him to know. I was choosing to study the bible, listen in church and use the people in the bible as my guides to how I was supposed to live life. I began to worship in the car, while I was cleaning up, while I was cooking. My children were staring at me asking me, “Why do you Love God so much now?”

As my heart decluttered I began to make room for the Holy Spirit to develop a relationship with me. How amazing is that?

So I get to 1 of only 2 concerts that I had ever attended in my life and I am completely humbled by this group of people (Hillsong United) serving Jesus. There’s no fancy glorious introductions or fanfare, they sang humbly to the crowd,

“The prince of peace came and broke into my heart.”

Much like the nicotine and alcohol used to intoxicate me, the presence of God was now in full effect! I knew without a shadow of doubt that He was there! I knew that we had gathered together and we had called, and He being the gracious God that He is, had shown up!

 

As I found myself trying to record the musicians and sing at the same time, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Why are you trying to record this moment, when you are here in it.”

It showed me that I had achieved what I had been waiting for on my journey of living for Jesus.

He spoke to me because He is always there. I could hear Him in my heart.  Despite the crowd. Despite the music. I had heard Him speak to me.

As I sang with the crowd and soaked in every moment. The lights, the music, the crowd—I realized that although these were the same songs that I had listened to on repeat for the past year, they sounded different. I don’t know if it was because the lyrics were on the screen or that they were literally only a few feet away from me—but it all sounded brand new.

Verses like, “here I am at your feet again, reaching out I surrender” filled me with so much love I thought I would burst open!!

It was in that moment standing there in 100-degree weather, very sweaty, feet hurting, heart full that I felt the full love of God. I realized that we were not separated by color, socioeconomic status, or anything else. We were one body standing in agreement that we wanted to serve God. We agreed that we wanted to live for Him.

I had imagined that when I finally bought a house, or when I paid my car off, or when I finally got married that I would feel completely filled up but I was wrong. In that moment, I had a glimpse of what it would be like to completely live for Him and be filled up in His presence.

So stood there sweating and crying, both of them mixing together in salty love for Jesus. I no longer had any type of doubt in my heart that he was real and alive. Nothing had changed from the moment I walked into the concert and the time I had been standing there, but I was changed.

That was it!! It was the feeling I had been searching for!

My kaleidoscope had forever been changed.  I knew that if I trusted Him he was going to finish the work that he started in me. I knew that if I let go of what I thought I needed or wanted and allowed Him to use me for His glory that His desires would be manifested into my heart. Everything that I had looked for in a friend, man, woman, job or car had been found in HIM.

I realized that because of my life, I had chosen to see the pictures that I wanted to see in MY kaleidoscope instead of using God’s kaleidoscope to see life. And even though I had always known that my perspective would change before my life did, I realized that when I was looking through my own lens, I was more likely to leave situations feeling offended, angry and upset because I wasn’t looking at God’s heart or my own in those situations.

Now that I knew how to use his kaleidoscope, I knew that I would finally begin to walk in the Purpose that He had for me.  J